A British flag and a Polish flag combined in a jigsaw puzzle with a few missing pieces

Polish Émigrés in London

Project team

Dr Ben Dew

Collaborators

The University of Regensburg

The University of Wroclaw

Duration of the project

January 2023 - June 2025


Project overview

From the 1830s onwards, London was home to a sizeable population of Polish émigrés. While these individuals came from a diverse range of social and political backgrounds, they were united in their opposition to the imperial or quasi-imperial systems of government that administered Polish territories.

The refuge they found in London, however, placed them at the heart of another large, cosmopolitan imperium, where they frequently lived alongside the subjects of European empires, Britain’s among them. Focusing on three key years (1853, 1916, 1947), our research provides an original perspective on émigré culture through investigating Polish attitudes to Britain’s empire, and the relationships Polish networks developed with other nationalist and anti-imperial groups in the city.

Project objectives

The project seeks to establish: (1) the ways in which Polish émigrés contributed to debates concerning empire; (2) how race and racial identity shaped engagement with discussions of imperial issues; (3) the interactions of Polish émigré writers in London with the people of other empires.

Impact statement

The project’s analysis of trans-colonial encounters will involve placing Polish émigré studies into direct dialogue with colonial and post-colonial theory and history, in order to generate new knowledge and critical paradigms in both areas. In addition, the project seeks to raise the profile of the contributions made by Polish émigrés to British cultural life through a series of events and online resources.

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023